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We’ve all missed going on holiday, but the stress of leaving the country has put many of us off travelling abroad. With the high cost of PCR tests, the confusing traffic light system and rules constantly changing, it sometimes seemed better to stay at home than leave the country. But there might be some hope for our wanderlust.
The traffic light system has officially been scrapped. The new, shorter red list (which came into effect at 4am on Monday, October 11) has been introduced to make UK travel easier and cheaper.
Thinking about booking a holiday? Here’s what you need to know:
What’s happened to the traffic light system?
The traffic light system including the red, amber and green list is now scrapped. Countries will either be on the red list or not. People arriving from a red list destination still will have to spend 11 nights at a quarantine hotel which will cost £2,285 for solo travellers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are accelerating towards a future where travel continues to reopen safely and remains open for good, and today’s rule changes are good news for families, businesses, and the travel sector.
“Our priority remains to protect public health but, with more than eight in 10 people now fully vaccinated, we are able to take these steps to lower the cost of testing and help the sector to continue in its recovery.”
How many countries are on the red list?
The number of countries on the red list has been cut from 54 to just seven. The new categorisation came into effect at 4am today, Monday, October 11.
Countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and South Africa have been removed from the red list, meaning you can now travel to them quarantine-free if you’re fully vaccinated.
Will we still need to take PCR tests?
Those traveling to/from a red list country will have to take a pre-departure test, plus a PCR test on day two and eight of their return to the UK.
If you’re travelling to/from any other country, you no longer need to take a pre-departure test if you’ve been full vaccinated in the UK, the EU, the US, or 18 other recognised countries. You’ll only need to take a day two PCR test on return if you’re double jabbed.
Later in October, fully vaccinated passengers with a recognised certificate from a country not on the red list will be able to replace their day two test with a cheaper lateral flow test, the government has announced. “The government aims to have this in place for when people return from half-term breaks,” the website says.
Anyone testing positive will need to isolate and take a confirmatory PCR test, at no additional cost, which would be genomically sequenced to help identify new variants.
If you’re unvaccinated, you still have to take a pre-departure test, and PCR tests on days two and eight of return.
Travellers may also need to arrange more tests depending on requirements of their destination country and airline.
What are the self-isolation rules after travel now?
Everyone travelling from a red list country must quarantine in a hotel for 11 nights. Unvaccinated people will have to self-isolate at home for 10 days when coming back from any other country.
Those who are double vaccinated are exempt from self-isolation when returning from a country not on the red list. Children under 18 who are UK residents or from one of the approved countries are also exempt from self-isolation.
Travel is the story of our summer. The rules (and traffic lights) are always changing, but one thing’s clear, we dream of being Anywhere But Here. This seasonal series offers you clear-headed travel advice, ideas-packed staycation guides, clever swaps and hacks, and a healthy dose of wanderlust.